Grave found of man who bankrolled Confederates in American civil war

Waterloo50

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#1
I found this article written in the UK news, I thought people may be interested to read this story. Charles Kuhn Prioleau certainly shares his resting place with some very famous British names.

The grave of a man who bankrolled the Confederate side in the American Civil war and ended up costing the British government £3.3m in compensation to the victorious north, has been tracked down in a patch of brambles in a London cemetery.

Charles Kuhn Prioleau, a cotton merchant born in Charleston, South Carolina, was based in Liverpool during the war, from 1861 to 1865. He disappeared from history in a bonfire of company records and correspondence after his firm went bankrupt, having sent supplies, funds, and blockade-busting ships to the Confederates.

But his mortal remains have now been traced to Kensal Green cemetery by a US academic who is gradually unearthing the almost forgotten story of Confederate support in England, which takes in the highest ranks of British politics and society.

Tom Sebrell, a history lecturer at University College London, led a small gang of students into the undergrowth armed with secateurs and cemetery burial records supplied by the Friends of Kensal Green. They literally fell over Prioleau's broken headstone.

His war efforts began as an attempt to save his business when the cotton trade – crucial to the economy both of the southern states of America and the Lancashire mill owners – collapsed. Prioleau's contribution to the Confederate cause grew to sending supplies, weapons, and ammunition to those states, and finally to buying, equipping and crewing warships. Through agents, he acquired three of the most notorious privateers of the civil war: the CSS Alabama and the CSS Florida, built on Merseyside, and the CSS Shenandoah, built on Tyneside.

The first ship in particular, with a mainly English crew, caused such havoc that the £3.3m the British eventually paid the US government was known as "the Alabama claim". After the war, Sebrell says Prioleau simply vanished. His company, Fraser, Trenholm and Co, went bankrupt, almost certainly to pre-empt compensation claims. He has descendants in England, Africa and the US, but none knew where he was buried. One branch thought Belgium, another somewhere called Kelsall, a name that led Sebrell and his team to Kensal Green.

Prioleau was buried there in 1887 among grand neighbours, including: the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel; Lady Byron, the poet's wife; the novelist Anthony Trollope; and WH Smith of newsagents fame.

But while some of their monuments are mini-cathedrals in grandeur, Prioleau's, beside the Liverpool in-laws who moved to London with him, is comparatively modest. It certainly fails to match the millionaire style of his surviving home in Liverpool, now owned by the university. Also traced by Sebrell, the house features portraits of Prioleau and his wife, Mary, as well as elaborate Confederate decoration in all the main rooms.

"This is a part of the cemetery's history that even we didn't know," Barry Smith, a trustee of the Friends, said. "It's fascinating to have another name to add to the already multi-layered history of this place."

Prioleau-001.jpg

Tom Sebrell, an American academic, has rediscovered the lost grave of Charles Prioleau in Kensal Green cemetery, London. Photograph: Martin Godwin
 
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#2
On my pile of books to read which I own but haven't gotten to is "A World on Fire " by Amanda Foreman.it is subtitled Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War.I looked in the index to what was said about him and just scanning through the pages there are some interesting things about him even jury tampering.have to read more,interesting fellow.
 

kevikens

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#3
On my pile of books to read which I own but haven't gotten to is "A World on Fire " by Amanda Foreman.it is subtitled Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War.I looked in the index to what was said about him and just scanning through the pages there are some interesting things about him even jury tampering.have to read more,interesting fellow.
I, too, read that book, the best I have ever read on Britain's role in the war, a topic not given much attention by modern British historians. As I was reading that book I kept thinking to myself, I wonder how Britons would have felt about the US supporting the Irish Easter rebellion of 1916?
 
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#4
I, too, read that book, the best I have ever read on Britain's role in the war, a topic not given much attention by modern British historians. As I was reading that book I kept thinking to myself, I wonder how Britons would have felt about the US supporting the Irish Easter rebellion of 1916?
I just taped the other night from the Georgia PBS station 3-1 hour programs on the Irish Rebellion of 1916.have yet to watch them but should be interesting to go along with a family tree that i'm doing for Mt wife's best friend whose parents didn't leave Dublin until 1921.
 

Waterloo50

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I just taped the other night from the Georgia PBS station 3-1 hour programs on the Irish Rebellion of 1916.have yet to watch them but should be interesting to go along with a family tree that i'm doing for Mt wife's best friend whose parents didn't leave Dublin until 1921.
My family were heavily involved in that rebellion, my Great Grandfather was an Irish Republican born and raised in Dublin, he was a very close friends with Dan Breen, there is a book called my fight for Irish Freedom written by Dan Breen and in it you can find the exploits of the early Irish Freedom fighters, my Great Grand father also gets a few mentions, he later ran a safe house in London and because of his American contacts he was able to send Irish men on ships to the USA without the English being aware of what he was up to. Many of the men from my family were deported as a result of their fighting with the English forces. When I joined the Army, my families past connections with the IRA were raised again, history has a way of coming back and haunting you.

220px-Daniel_Breen_police_notice.jpg
 

Waterloo50

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I, too, read that book, the best I have ever read on Britain's role in the war, a topic not given much attention by modern British historians. As I was reading that book I kept thinking to myself, I wonder how Britons would have felt about the US supporting the Irish Easter rebellion of 1916?
You would be better asking the question, what did the British think about Germany supporting the Irish rebellion, Germany made several attempts to supply weapons and equipment.
 
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Thanks so much for posting this. As it happens my great great grandfather - and Englishman by birth and a big-time blockade runner - was closely associated with the Prioleau family in Charleston (it's a common surname in Charleston and the family physician was a Prioleau). I don't know if grandpa had any direct connection to Charles K. Prioleau but your post now puts that thought in my head. Grandpa did have some connection to Fraser, Trenholm and was a founding partner in the other big blockade-running company, The Importing and Exporting Company of SC, which also had English connections. In fact, Fraser, Trenholm was one of the biggest stockholders in I & E (keep it all in the family I guess).

I do wonder now.
 

Waterloo50

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Thanks so much for posting this. As it happens my great great grandfather - and Englishman by birth and a big-time blockade runner - was closely associated with the Prioleau family in Charleston (it's a common surname in Charleston and the family physician was a Prioleau). I don't know if grandpa had any direct connection to Charles K. Prioleau but your post now puts that thought in my head. Grandpa did have some connection to Fraser, Trenholm and was a founding partner in the other big blockade-running company, The Importing and Exporting Company of SC, which also had English connections. In fact, Fraser, Trenholm was one of the biggest stockholders in I & E (keep it all in the family I guess).

I do wonder now.
What are the chances of that, it would be very interesting if you could find some kind of connection between you GG Grandfather and Charles Prioleau, just out of curiosity, is Prioleau a French name?
 

kevikens

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#11
You would be better asking the question, what did the British think about Germany supporting the Irish rebellion, Germany made several attempts to supply weapons and equipment.
It's hardly surprising that Germany would support the Irish Rebels as Germany and Britain were at war in 1916. For the US to build warships for the Irish in American shipyards and sell them weapons through a British blockade would have been a great deal more "thought provoking" than Germany doing it.
 
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What are the chances of that, it would be very interesting if you could find some kind of connection between you GG Grandfather and Charles Prioleau, just out of curiosity, is Prioleau a French name?
So I did a little researching and discovered that my GG Grandfather's physician and friend, Thomas Grimball Prioleau, was the brother of Samuel Prioleau, who was Charles Kuhn Prioleau's father. Thus I think it likely that GG grandpa at least was acquainted with Charles although I can't say that for sure. But there was the English connection, both had ties to the same company and were heavily involved in blockade running, and Charles was the nephew of GG grandpa's close friend and physician.

Oh, and Prioleau is a Huguenot surname although the family originated in Venice, Italy. Lot's of Prioleaus in the Huguenot Society (and one of their publications is how I found the family connection for C.K.).

I didn't know about Charles until this thread. Made my day !
 
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Waterloo50

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'
It's hardly surprising that Germany would support the Irish Rebels as Germany and Britain were at war in 1916. For the US to build warships for the Irish in American shipyards and sell them weapons through a British blockade would have been a great deal more "thought provoking" than Germany doing it.
Can you imagine the political upheaval that would have caused, would the USA have entered the war in 1917 if there had been political pressure from Britain to cease all supply of weapons to the Irish Republic. Imagine the scene, the USA denies any involvement and claims that American Merchant ships have been carrying out clandestine supplies of weapons to the Irish without prior knowledge of the United States Government, the American government states that they will investigate who is funding the supply of arms, the British, unhappy with the response board an American Merchant vessel in the Irish sea and arrest those on-board. How would the USA respond to that, they would already have a number of United States Navy ships in the area,
Phew, glad that was just a 'what if scenario'.:wink:
Headlines: Royal Navy halts and sinks American Merchant Ship. Britain and USA on brink of war.
 
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E_just_E

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#14
This is interesting. I found here another article on the story. It ends with:

Sebrell believes there is a rich tourism dividend in uncovering this lost history: already, he has invitations to lead guided tours of groups from Virginia and Carolina, and Liverpool is planning a Confederate history trail in 2011 to mark the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the war

Apparently, the story is a bit older. Wonder whether they opened that Confederate History trail and what the people's reaction was. I have found this related exhibition in a museum, and this unofficial trail, but they are both about Liverpool in the Civil War and not just the Confederate point of view. And this describing the trail as an indoor "trail" and not something outdoor, and against both Union and Confederate.

Also looked to see whether Sebrell has a book on the subject, but the only things I could find out is that he has a new position as Managing Director at American Civil War Experience Tours.

Interesting stuff :smile:
 

Waterloo50

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This is interesting. I found here another article on the story. It ends with:

Sebrell believes there is a rich tourism dividend in uncovering this lost history: already, he has invitations to lead guided tours of groups from Virginia and Carolina, and Liverpool is planning a Confederate history trail in 2011 to mark the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the war

Apparently, the story is a bit older. Wonder whether they opened that Confederate History trail and what the people's reaction was. I have found this related exhibition in a museum, and this unofficial trail, but they are both about Liverpool in the Civil War and not just the Confederate point of view. And this describing the trail as an indoor "trail" and not something outdoor, and against both Union and Confederate.

Also looked to see whether Sebrell has a book on the subject, but the only things I could find out is that he has a new position as Managing Director at American Civil War Experience Tours.

Interesting stuff :smile:
Here is a Link for the American Civil War Experience' http://www.acwlondon.org/
Sebrell has a Podcast on the link.
 

Waterloo50

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So I did a little researching and discovered that my GG Grandfather's physician and friend, Thomas Grimball Prioleau, was the brother of Samuel Prioleau, who was Charles Kuhn Prioleau's father. Thus I think it more than likely that GG grandpa at least was acquainted with Charles although I can't say that for sure. But they were both Englishmen, had ties to the same company and were heavily involved in blockade running, and Charles was the nephew of GG grandpa's close friend and physician.

Oh, and Prioleau is a Huguenot surname although the family originated in Venice, Italy. Lot's of Prioleaus in the Huguenot Society (and one of their publications is how I found the family connection for C.K.).

I didn't know about Charles until this thread. Made my day !
That's great news, I thought that there was a possibility that your GG Grandpa would have known him or at least be aware of him. I happy that you have added another interesting fact to your family history.:smile:
If you are ever in London, Charles Prioleau's grave would be easy to find, you would also get to see the burial place of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Byron's wife 'Anne Isabella Byron.
 

Waterloo50

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Thanks so much for posting this. As it happens my great great grandfather - and Englishman by birth and a big-time blockade runner - was closely associated with the Prioleau family in Charleston (it's a common surname in Charleston and the family physician was a Prioleau). I don't know if grandpa had any direct connection to Charles K. Prioleau but your post now puts that thought in my head. Grandpa did have some connection to Fraser, Trenholm and was a founding partner in the other big blockade-running company, The Importing and Exporting Company of SC, which also had English connections. In fact, Fraser, Trenholm was one of the biggest stockholders in I & E (keep it all in the family I guess).

I do wonder now.
Rumford.jpg

The offices of Fraser, Trenholm & Co., Rumford Place, Liverpool. From this building, the construction of a large portion of the Confederacy's navy and blockade running was orchestrated. Just around the corner at 22 Water Street was the US Consulate, keeping a close eye on Prioleau's activities. In the same building as the US Consulate was the regular meeting place of the Liverpool Southern Club, of which the city's Lord Mayor was a member.
 



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